[the individual] is incognito, but [their] incognito consists precisely in looking just like everyone else.Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 345.
Kierkegaard writes the above in his broader discussion of monasticism.
The individual does not stop being a human being, take off finitude’s motley in order to be dressed in the abstract garb of the monastery.344
Kierkegaard’s gripe with monasticism is that monasticism is worldly defining itself by distinction in changing their dress (and name). The issue of dress is one of making oneself different from everyone else and that is the attitude of the world. Ok, the discussion is a little more involved!
So the quote about being incognito is not anti-monasticism but against the idea of being different in religious life. For me, it speaks of being “human” while being anonymous. To be anonymous in Jesus by looking just like everyone else! To fully live for Jesus while looking just like everyone else!
So the lesson for me? It is not about being outwardly different but about being inwardly attached to Jesus. It is about a relationship that is at the same time extremely private and life transforming.
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